|Negotiations between Lifetime and Echostar are at an impasse; Oxygen and Echostar, in carriage talks since last summer, has struck a deal that puts Oxygen in almost 65 million homes, up from 56 million. Without carriage in Dishâ€™s 12 million homes, Lifetimeâ€™s homes drop to 76 million.
Or maybe Watercoolerâ€™s getting a little dramatic. Either way, when we heard Echostar had decided to drop Lifetime Movie Network in order to clear space on its lineup for the womenâ€™s network competitor Oxygen, we thought this story is getting good. All of this comes amid contentious carriage negotiations between Lifetime and Echostar, which has left Lifetime without a home on the satellite companyâ€™s Dish network.
The Lifetime-Echostar negotiations have been at an impasse since last week; Oxygen and Echostar, meanwhile, have been in carriage talks since last summer. The current deal puts Oxygen in almost 65 million homes, up from 56 million. Without carriage in Dishâ€™s 12 million homes, Lifetimeâ€™s homes drop to 76 million.
Lifetime is quick to point out that in 2005, its prime-time audience averaged eight times more viewers than either Oxygen or WE, the Rainbow Media-owned womenâ€™s cabler. It also charges Lifetime Movie Networkâ€™s prime-time household ratings were more than double its competitors. â€śEchostar has 45 sports networks -- it canâ€™t have four womenâ€™s networks?â€ť said Lifetimeâ€™s spokesman Gary Morganstein. â€śThis shouldnâ€™t even be an issue.â€ť
Echostar is not shy about saying its negotiations with Lifetime are about economics, and charges the network is turning the business talks into a political fight by enlisting the National Council of Womenâ€™s Organizations to join in. In response to claims that Echostarâ€™s depriving its customers of Lifetime is also depriving women of important womenâ€™s related health and safety information, the satellite operators has offered to air PSAs about important womenâ€™s related messages.
And of course this battle wonâ€™t be the last. Negotiations between TV delivery systems -- both satellite and cable -- and networks are often contentious. In addition to Lifetime, Echostar has battled Viacomâ€™s MTV, Disneyâ€™s ABC Family and Comcastâ€™s OLN over previous carriage deals. And with CBS Corp. CEO Les Moonves highlighting broadcast network retransmission rights as a major revenue-making priority in his new company and cable news juggernaut Fox News Channelâ€™s renewals coming up in the next several years, weâ€™re looking forward to some pretty good drama.